Statement: “Come on guys, stop fighting. We need to stick together. We don’t want to be like the Christians.”
Rebuttal: <brain melt> Too many presumptions.
The first presumption is that we must all get along with each other all the time. That, in fact, we must agree on every detail. Sorry, but I don’t like vegetables, I love meat, I think that it’s a woman’s choice, that guns are needed and should be protected, that the color blue is the best, that my daughter walks above the water, and that my wife floats above the clouds, that I am less than nothing and I still don’t understand why they stay with me. You may not agree with any part of that statement. That’s fine. Stop presuming that my opinions and spirituality are the same as yours, or that it must be, simply because I’m pagan and you are pagan. Just because we are in the same religion or other blanket group together does not make us friends or even acquaintances, it makes us co-religionists, that’s all. It gives us only one point of commonality. It could be that there are more, but that’s for another time when we know each other better. I work on computers, but that won’t make me best friends with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates or Steve Wozniak.
Second, fighting can solve or resolve issues. To not fight is not necessarily to have peace, it can be to have lack of care, concern or respect. If I don’t respect others enough to try to point out facts that I know about and you may not, then I don’t care about them at all. Ultimately that means they will never learn and grow. Life is conflict. Life is struggle and fighting, fighting to overcome gravity (by standing and walking) and fighting to overcome societal pressures. If there was no fighting, then all the advances in the last 100 years that society has made would not have happened. Things like Civil Rights, Suffrage, Child Labor Laws and more would never have occurred. All those started out as struggles, and there are people who DIED to see those changes to the established order through to the end.
Debate is good, it lets the people debating see other sides of the arguments, and possibly change their position. But that won’t happen unless one person speaks up and says, “I don’t agree with your position”. That only happens when there is conflict, and things get solved. Certainly undirected arguments and conflict should be curbed, as it serves no purpose. But unless things have degenerated to name-calling and ignoring the issues, I say let the debate and fight rage. Sometimes the only way someone will listen is if they get screamed at.
Third, “don’t want to end up like the Christians”? If only Paganism could be so lucky! Let me point something out. Christianity is THE most successful religion in the world, period. Specifically Catholicism, but we will lump all Christian Religions together on this one for a bit. In 2000 years, a tiny, persecuted, hated cult went from being hunted to near extinction to having the most adherents in the history of the world. The Roman Catholic Church currently has more than 1 billion (with a “b”) members on its rolls. Yeah, they have enough members to completely replace the population of China. If we added in all the Christians in the world, that number jumps to 2 billion, or 33% of the world population. The next closest religious group is the Muslims, or the religion of Islam, with 1.2 billion and third is Hinduism with 786 million. Christianity is one of THE most respected religions out there currently. There are Papal Nuncios (Vatican Ambassadors) in almost every country in the world, the Vatican is it’s own country, right in the middle of Italy; they issue their own stamps for pity’s sake. The Pope is one of the most respected clergy members in the world and we can only hope to emulate their successes.
For all their flaws, and I will be the very first to agree they are nearly numberless, Christianity has a lot to offer the world. There is literally no part of Western History that is not influenced by Christianity. I will admit there are all kinds of insane idiots who call themselves Christian, and Catholicism and Christianity in general does have bad times and black marks against it, but have you heard the head of Islam apologize to the Christians and Jews they slaughtered in the past? Do you even know the names of any of the high-ranking clergy of Islam? Bet you know the name of the current Pope, don’t you? That goes to prove my point.
Statement: “You’re a Pagan teacher, you have to teach me all you know about Wicca. It’s the law.”
Rebuttal: (Once more, in harmony, with FEELING) Wicca IS NOT the sum total of Paganism. Wicca is one component of Paganism; it is not all of Paganism.
I don’t know how many times I have seen this stupid assumption on lists, in real life and so on, but it’s one thing that makes people cringe and run away. Wicca does not equal Paganism. Just like Witchcraft does not equal Wicca. Same song, different verse.
Just because I’m Pagan, and I teach, does not mean I am compelled or required to teach you any form of paganism and especially not Wicca IF I am not Wiccan. I know many people in the Pagan communities who have never been Wiccan, but who ARE pagans, who have no idea what Wicca is or what it stands for, or how to practice it. To assume that because they are Pagan they can teach you Wicca is the height of arrogant absurdism, and will ensure they won’t teach you the Paganism they know.
Add to that the assumption that you are somehow “owed” training. Let me be absolutely clear here: No one owes you anything. You are not “owed” anything by anyone period. If you wish to do something for someone, you may hope that this will induce him or her to teach you, they may not. You may enter into an agreement with someone to teach you in return for (fill in the blank). We however have just met, as of now, I have agreed to no obligation regarding you no matter what delusions you hold in this regard.
Tell you what, go into ANY Martial Arts School; go ahead, pick one at random. Go up to the person in charge and say this same statement to their face. It’s likely they will simply hurt themselves laughing at you. You have shown no gift, you have demonstrated no knowledge, and you have shown no inclination to anything other than arrogance and idiocy.
I want you to find the legal code that states I have to teach you; after all, you stated it was the law. I’m not a member of the public school system, and I have taken no oaths to my Gods to teach every person who comes to me everything I know. You show me where it’s “the law” in my religion and we will talk.
Plus, and I want you to think carefully about this, Satanists are considered by many to be Pagans, Druids are considered by many to be Pagans. Hindus are considered by many to be Pagans. By modern definition Pagan means “not Christian.” Do you really want a member of one of these religions teaching you about Wicca when they don’t know squat about it themselves? Why don’t you go to a Wiccan teacher and *ask* to be taught, sincerely and politely, instead of arrogantly demanding that anyone who happens to be near you teach you?
The latter attitude will get you ignored, the former will catch the attention of many others and you may learn what you are looking for.
Statement: “Ohmigod! You can’t send healing energies, you’re manipulating them, and that’s wrong!”
Rebuttal: How is trying to help someone wrong? It’s no different than praying for their recovery. Don’t quip about the Threefold Law or the Rede at me, and don’t tell me about how they may be suffering to learn something or that it’s their life lesson, that’s only an excuse to do nothing and to sit on your hands.
Wake UP! People are going to do what they feel is right. If that’s healing, suffering, learning or being a jerk, that’s what they will do. All ANYONE can strive for is to be the best person they can be. A priest putting his hands on a sick child to heal them, a Wiccan sending healing energy or you asking for healing energies to be sent to your dying mother are no different. It’s not manipulation nor is it trying to control the person in question. It’s being a concerned member of the Starship Earth, a good human, and attempting to take some pain away from someone who is suffering. That’s all it is.
If you truly believe in the Rede and the Threefold Law, then the person who is sending that energy will get theirs in due course. Stating that they are bad and wrong in advance of that is being a narrow-minded judgmental jerk. You are attempting to manipulate that person by telling them they are wrong, instead of letting them learn their own lesson of not sending healing energies. Let them learn that first. And maybe, perhaps you may find out that at least in this particular instance that the will to help someone recover from sickness was ok after all.
Statement: “You can burn booze in a cauldron indoors for a safe bonfire.”
Rebuttal: While it’s true that burning 91% rubbing alcohol in a cauldron will allow you to have a small, controlled fire indoors NOTHING about fire is safe. You can accomplish the same thing by using a can of Sterno. Fire is one of the primal elements of the world, and it has been used as the eraser of the Gods before now, a way to destroy everything so that life can be renewed. Just because it’s in a cauldron means that it can be controlled more easily.
See, I thought this way once, then I melted my favorite cauldron while trying to destroy a spell I wrote. I discovered that I had been an idiot. This could have easily gotten away from me, and had it spilled, I would not have been too lucky since it would have ignited the place I was living.
Fires produce heat. That heat can burn or melt things nearby. Fires produce smoke. Most fatalities due to fire are NOT from burns, as many think, it’s from smoke inhalation which prevents the lungs from exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide as well as filling the body with carbon monoxide which is very difficult to free from blood cells. Fires have flames, which can blind and which rise to the ceiling and can start other fires. Alcohol is a flammable liquid, if it’s too close to the fire, the plastic bottle can melt and there goes your home. Fire can ignite your bed, curtains, and clothing. I attended an outdoor circle once in which the HPS was trying to read the ceremony from her notes, and they caught on fire because of the candles. Humorous at the time, but it could easily have ignited something had it been indoors. Additionally, I knew of a young lady whose apartment was destroyed by candles on her altar.
Ever wonder why your stove is where it is and made out of metal? Metal usually doesn’t burn. But put a piece of paper on that burner while it’s hot, and watch the flames. Then take those flames someplace else in your house, add in a flammable liquid, and you have a recipe for disaster. Wiccan flambé’! Yum, yum.
My advice to you is this: Unless you know EXACTLY what you are doing with fire, just have your burning rituals outdoors with a fire extinguisher standing by.
Statement: “I take mistletoe for my gout – it’s all natural and safe, you know!”
Rebuttal: So you take a poisonous plant for a condition that is caused by rich foods? How……….. Darwinian of you. Let me go an nominate you for the Darwin Awards right now, you will be taking yourself out of the gene pool fairly soon.
Mistletoe is a poison. Taking it for anything is a crapshoot. It’s playing Russian Roulette with your life. Taking it for a condition that can be controlled with other means is stupid. Taking it for a condition it has no hope of curing is not only stupid, it is as though you sent your little brother to the auto parts store for a loaf of bread and gave him drachmas to pay for it. Not only is it an exercise in futility, but on the off chance that they do have bread, there is no hope they will accept the money he has to purchase it.
Do a little looking and research before you wind up killing yourself. Herbs are natural, yes. They grow in the ground and are from nature. South American Tree Frogs are natural too. Licking one may well kill you. Not all good things are natural. Poison Ivy is natural, but burn it and breathe in the fumes and you have a 50% chance of getting Poison Ivy in your lungs, which could be fatal.
Herbalists have studied their craft (another one that is a CRAFT, not a religion) for years, learning the properties of each plant, finding out what it does, what the side effects are, and how they interact with each other. There are plants that when taken by themselves are harmless and good for you, but when taken with another can kill.
Here’s one, White Willow bark. Everyone knows that this substance is good for headaches. Did you know that you can overdose on willow bark and that it’s pretty serious if you do? Ulcers are one possible consequence. Did you know that there is another type of willow bark that when prepared the same way is toxic? Which Willow bark do you have?
Just because it’s natural does not mean it’s safe. You are told not to eat an unknown mushroom for just this purpose, as many varieties of fungus will kill. So you blatantly go out and ignore this simple piece of advice because you saw in a book someplace that herbs are good for you? That’s what we have pharmacists and doctors for.
Statement: “I’m so bad at history, being eclectic and all. I prefer doing smidges of different kinds of new agey stuff than those intense orthodox ones.”
Rebuttal: It would be more accurate for you to say “I’m so lazy that I can’t be bothered to find out about my own religion, so I take whatever sounds good and add it into the pot of my religion and smash it up till I don’t know what I am anymore. I’m too scared, bored, lazy, rebellious to have to work to gain information and I can’t be bothered.”
This is the one thing that will kill Wicca. When it gets so devalued it can’t be distinguished from Christianity or New Age philosophy, any other religion, or agnosticism then no one will be motivated to practice it. They can stay in the religion they currently are and practice the “Wicca” you are espousing. It’s apathy. You care for your religion so little that you want to see it die like that?
My best advice to you is to go out, read books other than those published by Llewellyn. Read a LOT of books by others, the recommended reading lists of many of the Wiccan 101 books will do nicely. Study and pray and practice your religion. You may actually find that the rituals in there are more appropriate to what you want to do than you know.
New age practices are usually ignored as they tend to be really shallow and they pull from so many sources as to be worthless. As Mercedes Lackey put it in one of her books “New age. Rhymes with sewage and is the same watered down crap.”
If New Age beliefs work for you, there is absolutely nothing stopping you from incorporating them into your belief structure, as many other experienced practitioners of Paganism before you have done. But try to understand Wicca and what Wicca represents before you water it down with beliefs that have no place in it. It’s a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. You never know what you are getting rid of.
Statement: “No one is ever a ‘newbie’…that’s just mean!”
Rebuttal: Would it be better if you were called something else?
Everyone at some time in their life is a beginner, a newbie, a tyro, an apprentice, a student. Being declared a “master” of something takes time, dedication and energy, and the student must learn FIRST. It’s not mean to say that someone is a student or a beginner, it’s simply stating fact. It may be an important part of their progress to have the student act as the Master in some cases from time to time, but that is for SPECIFIC lessons.
Many students wear their status with pride. Calling them a student is not a mark of disrespect; it is a mark of honor. Don’t you think Doctor Watson was a student of Sherlock Holmes? Do you think that he was insulted to be called a student? *I* wouldn’t be, I would be complimented and flattered.
It is possible that the term “newbie” is being used to degrade and tease, but that is one person’s problem with your status, and that is something they have to overcome. But having labels for the level of progress you have made makes it easier for you to compare yourself to others and measure how far you have advanced over time.
Everyone is a newbie at one time or another. Even Buddha and Mohammed started out unenlightened.
Statement: “I don’t read much. My witchcraft comes purely from within.”
Rebuttal: Good for you then! I’m glad that your knowledge of herbs and your knowledge of spells come from within yourself. But you will be rediscovering existing information and taking the chance of dying in the process. As one friend pointed out, the first man to eat lobster was brave, the first man to eat arsenic was *dead*.
Granted, there is a lot to be said for self-discovery. The fact that a student can find things can be done in a more efficient way simply because they don’t know it’s “can’t” be done that way. This is an important aspect of growth. Yet, it’s easier when there is a foundation for later discovery and learning.
However, TONS of research in the topic of Witchcraft and the elements that go with witchcraft have already been done and shared. It is in books on the net and in stories. There are elements of witchcraft in superstitions and folk charms. All of these are things YOU will have to rediscover, on your own, if you only rely on internal promptings. You won’t be able to advance Witchcraft at all, since all your time will be spent duplicating the last umpty hundred years of effort and research.
It’s highly likely that what you are trying to do has been done before, and that someone else already found what you are looking for. With that said, it’s not only possible but most often necessary that further research can and should be done based on the foundations of previous knowledge, so that new discoveries are made. Otherwise, all you will wind up doing is reinventing the wheel.
But hey, if doing that floats your boat and validates your life, then go for it. If you believe that the only valid practice of witchcraft comes from “what feels right” then you are disrespecting the work *I* have done which was built on the foundation of wisdom passed to me by others. If you don’t want to hear that centuries of herbalists have written that Foxglove is a poison because you “feel” that it’s not, then I hope you have a coffin ready and your life insurance paid up. One question – can I be your beneficiary?
Statement: “I only practice White witchcraft.”
Statement: “Balance isn’t about dark.”
Rebuttal: These are together because they both assume that you can have one thing without the other, that there can be day without night.
How can you possibly know what happiness is if you have never been sad in your life? How can you know what full is without being empty? Do you really think that you can know up without knowing what down is? Opposites are not the only thing that makes up a religion or a life, ignoring all other perceived negative aspects of something in favor of ONE small portion removes so much richness from life. It is like only hearing one note of a symphony. Sure you will hear that C Flat from all the different instruments in the orchestra, but you will never understand what a symphony is from that one note.
Witchcraft is made up of the dark scary parts too. Using and learning from the powers of hate, anger, fear, lust and other “dark” emotions can teach you many things, primary among them, what those emotions feel like and how to deal with them. With the knowledge you acquire, you will understand what magick ruled by those emotions will act like, how it will feel to you, and thus you can avoid using them if you are that scared of those abilities. But you HAVE to know what magic fueled by anger feels like, in a controlled setting. That’s usually accomplished by your training with your mentor and they need to be there to help you keep your control if those emotions start getting away from you.
Balance is a state between two states, where both states are in harmony with each other, and contain elements of each other. You cannot have only one force, without the other force also being there in harmony with it. You cannot have light without also having the dark. Let me tell you, once you DO have both those in balance with each other, you have a very strong power at your disposal. If you eliminate one side of the equation, you have a meaningless jumble of numbers which means you did something wrong. Balance is all about the Dark, and also all about the Light.
Statement: “I do spell work, but I would never do anything manipulative!”
Rebuttal: Don’t you consider that to be manipulative? Spell work is manipulation of energy toward a pre-determined goal along with manipulation of chance and other forces (including people) to bring about the desired outcome. It can also be seen as manipulation of self to bring about a change that gives one an advantage over others. If you want some evidence of this, look at Gardner’s 161 Laws, in which it talks about using the Arte (or magick) to force someone to sell a house that the Wiccan wants.
Talk about not knowing what you are talking about. Magic and spell work is ALL about manipulation. Now, had you said “I won’t knowingly take away other people’s ability to choose through my spell work” then I wouldn’t have a problem with what you said. But to say that spell work is not manipulation is saying that the sun doesn’t put off heat.
Statement: Why would I want to follow a tradition? If it feels right, it is the God/dess guiding you, right?
Rebuttal: In just a few words: Tradition, knowledge, brotherhood, practice.
The tradition in this instance is not the Alexandrians or the Gardnerians, it’s meant as “how it has been done by our ancestors”. You joined this religion (Wicca) to have a connection to the past, to worship the deities of the Old Ones; to gain something you felt was not offered by other groups, right? It couldn’t have been because you just wanted to freak out your parents could it? But now you want to throw that out because you find that the group you want to be a member of has rules and expects things from you? Gee, could it be that you can really relate to that statement above about not reading or, maybe the one about being too lazy, uh eclectic – I meant eclectic, to learn?
Tradition is more than just saying the same thing over and over again. Tradition, in a magical sense, sets up what is called “precedent” in which the person doing the ritual has a psychic/magic/elemental connection to the magician of the past who also did it the same way, thus allowing the person who is doing the ritual now to draw upon the ability of those in the past. And sometimes, the beings you are trying to invoke just won’t pay attention unless called a specific way.
If I, as a ceremonial magician, were to use the Key of Solomon to summon a ruler of the element of Air, but I used my own made up ritual, it would more than probably fail. The ruler of that element would ignore me. However, if I used the precedent and tradition laid down in the Key of Solomon to summon it, then it would pay attention and come at my orders, as it is supposed to do. If I, as a Wiccan, did my “Drawing Down the Moon” ritual in whatever manner felt right, the ritual elements being called upon may not be correctly invoked, and the ritual would probably fail.
As far as knowledge goes, there is generally a course of study that has been in effect for a long time. In this course of study, the teachers know what works and what does not to get a particular lesson across. A good teacher has already done the work, spent time troubleshooting the teaching process. Thus, the teacher can consistently evoke the correct responses from the student when trying to transmit the mysteries. Self-study and divine inspiration can’t always transmit these understandings. It’s POSSIBLE to do so, but it’s a rare thing to have it happen.
Then there are the social aspects. Practice on your own will give you no connection to others from whom you could learn. It also denies them access to things you may have to teach. You will not know whether what you just experienced was due to a potassium imbalance or an actual transformative experience that you are supposed to have. You won’t hear other people’s stories of their initiation (or whatever) and what they felt/heard, thus your experience never gets validated. You won’t gain an understanding of Pagan group dynamics and problems specific to Paganism without interaction with other Pagans. You may also never overcome problems in your own psyche (like prejudice) that need to be eradicated without that association. It’s also highly unlikely that you will understand that there is a synergy that one can find among a large (or small) group of those all working toward the same goal.
You may also find that you tend to slack off when it’s only yourself. Having been both solitary and a part of a group, I find that I do my rituals more consistently when I have someone to do them FOR other than myself. When it’s just me to please, a prayer or a short and abbreviated ritual is the usual order of the day, but when I have someone else to participate, even if it’s one other person, I tend to get the elaborate ritual going and that makes it more serious.
This is not saying that one MUST only practice in a group or with a tradition. There is a LOT to be said for solitary practice and a lot that can be done. But humans are social animals, and our basic nature demands that we have contact with others.
Copyright Daven 2003.
Please contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at http://davensjournal.com
Permission granted to distribute this file so long as no part of this is changed.
Originally posted 2013-07-07 03:24:48. Republished by Blog Post Promoter